I’ve had the same hair scarf since the mid-90s.
I bought it from a Black Beauty supply store on the southside (pronounced souf-saahd) of Richmond, VA during my first year of college.
That scarf has been with me thru every major moment in my adult life.
It was there when I was on academic probation and when I made the dean’s list. It was there when I pledged my sorority. It was there for every date and breakup. It was there when I got married, divorced and married again. It was there for every move and every job change. It was there when I was bankrupt and when I got the job offer with the biggest salary of my career to date. It was there for the birth of my children. It was there for the loss of my dad … Every tear. Every laugh. Every struggle. Every joy. Every disappointment. Every celebration.
Every. Single. Major. Moment. Of. My. Adult. Life.
A couple months ago, I noticed some breakage around the temples of my hairline. When I showed them to my hairstylist, she immediately asked when was the last time I got a new hair scarf or bonnet.
When I said “Nineteeeeeen” … the judgy side-eye she gave me was beyond epic.
Then she told me to get a new scarf.
And I was sad.
How could I just get rid of this thing that had served me so loyally for so long?? Sure, it was ruining my edges and didn’t even stay on thru the night anymore — but it had been with me thru everything. I just couldn’t let it go.
For about a week, I lived in full denial … I stopped wearing a scarf on my hair at night. I looked a mess when I woke up, the extra time I had to spend on my hair in the mornings slowed me down and the amount of frizz was unbearable.
For a week after that, I pretended that I couldn’t find a suitable replacement … I went to the hair care stores near my house “searching” for a replacement. I live in the suburbs. No ffffing way was I gonna find a suitable headscarf in any of those stores — and I knew it!
On the 3rd week, I finally carried myself to a Black hair care store and got a real replacement scarf … It held my hair together better and it stayed on all night without shifting an inch. The frizz and breakage stopped.
What started was lines in my forehead from tying the scarf too tight … I’d been overcompensating with my old scarf. It wasn’t necessary anymore. I had to learn a new way with my new scarf.
It can be hard to let go of what has been with us thru major moments. Things, processes, people …
Letting go can be hard, even when we know it doesn’t do what it is supposed to do. Even when we know it’s not serving us anymore. Even when we know it’s hurting us.
Few things stay with us forever. We outgrow it because of our age or stage. Or the thing naturally wears out. Or we evolve and it simply cannot be successful at our new level … It doesn’t make letting go any easier.
We cannot hold ourselves back from our next level out of misplaced loyalty to something or someone else. It is a dishonor to your gifts and talents. It’s a dishonor to the people who support and root for you. It’s a dishonor to the people who sacrifice for you. It is a dishonor to your future.
Dishonor is just as unacceptable as a raggedy hairline and broken edges.
So me and my new scarf are figuring out our new relationship and focusing on fixing the damage to my hair from using my old scarf for far too long. Because when we finally move forward, there will always been correction and clean-up.
My old scarf is folded neatly on a shelf alongside some other nostalgic knick-knacks. Because we can honor our past, release it and move into our future.
That’s only possible when we believe the one we owe the most loyalty to is the best version of ourselves.
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